|Trevor Bettencourt, image- Jay Floyd
Right-handed reliever Trevor Bettencourt made a name for himself in 2017. Opening the season as a member of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, the California native would pitch into midseason there tallying a 3-2 record with a 3.28 ERA, eight saves and a 13.9 K/9 mark in 25 appearances. A highlight of his season was helping his roommates Nick Fanti close out a no-hitter by notching the last out against Columbia on May 6th.
Bettencourt, who stands six feet tall and is listed at 195 pounds, was promoted to Class A Advanced Clearwater in July and sported a 2-0 record, a 1.57 ERA and recorded two saves and a .157 batting average against in 16 outings.
The 23-year-old wrapped up his 2017 in the Arizona Fall League, where he would have a less-than-stellar performance (0-1 record, one save, 10.13 ERA in eight games).
Recently, I spoke with the Phillies’ 25th round draft selection from 2016 about learning from those bumps in the road, his off-season routine, pitching coach Brian Sweeney landing a big league coaching job with the Indians and more. Read ahead for that full interview.
-The Arizona Fall League is described by many as being a prestigious league to play in. Do you agree with that?
Definitely. You know, to be honest, I was not expecting that at all. I was just planning to go back to school in the fall and everything and the second they called me in and (Threshers manager) Shawn (Williams) told me, I was shocked. I cancelled all my classes and I was like, “Yeah, I’m going to Arizona.” It’s something, just the experience you get, the different guys that you face, the guys you get to work with, it’s a different venue and it helps learning from different people.
-Shawn Williams, of course, your manager with both the Threshers and with the Glendale team in the AFL. Was it helpful to you to have a familiar coach there with you?
Oh, definitely. Especially, ‘cause I had kind of a rough patch, man. I can’t tell you how many bloop hits I gave up, broken bat singles, just you know, things not going my way. And I couldn’t find a way to get out of it sometimes and I was getting pretty frustrated. The way the game of baseball goes sometimes you can get beat down in the dirt and it helped having Shawn there because I have known him for a decent amount of time and I’ve played for him and talked to him personally. It kind of helped me turn the page with stuff and just realize that no matter what happens you’ve got to keep going out there and throwing. I was able to finish well and I think he was a big part of that and so were the other coaches there as well.
-I know that some of your Phillies teammates put up noteworthy stats out there. Is it cool, even when you aren’t doing as well as you wanted, to be able to have those guys ripping it up and then get some satisfaction out of their performances?
Oh, definitely. I mean, you’re locked in a cage in left-center and it’s just a bunch of guys stuck in a cage and you make great friendships on and off the field. You know, you could be throwing terrible and if (your teammate) goes out there and throws a zero on the board or shut the opponents down after you allow some guys on, it’s a big deal. I remember throwing and having a good inning and (Garrett Cleavinger) came in after me and threw really well again and it’s just one of those great feelings where if you can go back-to-back with a guy, especially a guy you like and are friends with…and there was another time where (JD) Hammer came in and helped me out and so it’s a team sport. You do your job and hand it off when you can. But if you fall behind, you’ll need somebody to help you out.
-Over these winter months are you holding down a job or just working out, or what?
Just working out. It’s kind of hard to go home and get a job and say, “Hey, I’m gonna be working for you for about a month, month-and-a-half and then leave.” That working on doing some lifts, some baseball lessons and working out and getting ready for this upcoming season. So, going to Arizona was a great experience, but last year I started working out the first week of October, got on my diet and I’m a little behind this year. It’s a lot of give and take. I learned a lot of baseball, but I’ve got to hit it hard at the gym.
-Where’s home for you and what facilities are you using to stay in shape?
I live in San Jose, California up north and I go to Sparta Science in Menlo Park. Actually, Andrew Knapp from the Phillies goes there, his brother Aaron Knapp from the Marlins goes there, Mitch Haniger goes there, Max Kepler, a lot of dudes.
I give (Sparta Science) a lot of credit for my season this year. You know, I definitely had the best season I’ve had in my entire life to be honest. Just health wise, velo and control. I give them a lot of credit for how I did, based on my last off-season workout.
-So, I know that for a lot of guys, adding velocity can come from various things. What did you work on there that you’re convince helped you with velo?
Personally, you can get as strong as you want but you’re not—if you can’t control, you know, strength and a certain flexibility, if you can’t-- let’s say you can get down the mound a certain length, you can throw so-and-so hard, but if you can’t get into that area of flexibility while controlling the strength, you’re wasting a lot of energy. And that’s what my problem was; I wasn’t as in tune with my body as I am now. Getting in a certain position, holding more weight than I was before, instead of just throwing weight on my back and moving it. Now, I’m starting to feel a lot more core. I’m getting my upper half connected and that helps a lot of guys that go to Sparta get to start to understand their bodies and start to really feel themselves when they’re throwing or hitting or running. You can really feel a lot more energy and be a lot more efficient with your energy rather than having to blow it out all the time.
-News out of the winter meetings this week was Brian Sweeney, BlueClaws pitching coach for the past two years, was hired to join the Indians big league staff. Can you talk about him a bit?
I love that guy. Especially, in spring training, I met him and talked to him and whenever I was doing dry work I loved to work with him. I loved working with a lot of the pitching guys, but for some reason me and Sweeney in spring training at least and while I was in Lakewood, the way he would explain things I really understood it and I was able to work on it. I can’t remember who I was talking to, maybe my dad, I told him about it and I told him, “I’m pumped for him! That sucks for me and some of the other (Phillies) pitchers, because he’s such a good coach and he really breaks stuff down really well.” But you can’t be upset because he deserves it. He’s doing what he wants to do and he’s up there now and it’s awesome. He’s one of the good guys, so I’ll miss him a lot. Awesome opportunity.
-Was there any big lesson or experience you had in the Arizona Fall League that you think will stick with you for a long time?
I guess, you know, trying to set guys up a little more. I started to realize that the Double and Triple A guys that have had that many more at bats, you’ve got to run it in on them a little more. I would mess with the two-seamer a lot, in the AFL trying to get movement going the other way, and when I was able to get it to go the other way I was able to set guys up and get guys out more often than not. But it’s definitely more of a chess match than I felt in low A. There’s really good hitters in low A and high A, but the guys I faced in the AFL you could see really stuck to their plans and really tried to execute. So, that’s something I know I’ll have to work on and just being more methodical in doing my homework on certain hitters and what not.